That's a nice verse, often quoted at Christmas time. But what does it mean? What did Isaiah mean by "a child is born" and "a son is given"? What's the difference?
A child is born any time. In fact, as I write this we are waiting for our daughter to call and tell us that she is in labor. A child will be born, just as thousands are every day. But what was important about the Christ's birth?
"A child is born". Not just any child, but THE Child. The One Israel had been waiting for since their national origin.
He was born. He was born into a dirty stable, and laid to sleep in a feeding trough. "A child is born". Jesus came as a baby, in the midst of blood and animal smells. He came in the most humble surroundings imaginable. He came to be a human, to identify with us in our human weakness, and to be one of us. Without this child being born, He could never have experienced what we experience.
But He went even farther. He died a horrible, excruciating death by hanging on a Roman cross. He feels what we feel. He knows our pain.
But that isn't the end of the story. Because not only is a child born, but "a son is given". That's different. Children are born all the time, but this Son was given. Who gave Him? Who was He given to? And why?
Jesus himself gave the answer to these questions when he was talking to Nicodemus one night. It is found in John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God gave his Son to us. God the Father gave God the Son to us so he could die for us, paying the penalty for our sin. He did this so we can have eternal life, if we will only believe in him.
To believe in him means to put our trust in him. It's like me trusting a boat to get me out to the islands. The real test of my faith, my trust, is whether or not I really step foot in the boat. That is what it means to trust Jesus. Are you willing to step into the boat, to follow Jesus and to let him lead you? He came to die for you. He came to give you his life, and to rise again so you can experience life with him forever.
Do you know Jesus as the child who was born, the one who identifies with us in our struggles? Do you also know Jesus as the son who was given, who died on the cross, rose again, and is calling you to trust him?
He is the best Christmas gift you could ever receive. He is the best Christmas gift you can ever share with someone else. Will you trust Him today? Will you tell someone the good news that Jesus came to give them life? He is the reason for Christmas. He is the reason for living. Trust Him!